Düsseldorf – Greetings from the “bus baby”! At the tender age of 18 years old, I joined the Road Trip in Strasbourg for a few weeks on the road. I will hop off when we are back to my home country, in Paris. A dual citizen – both French and American – I have just completed my first year at the University of Chicago, a few streets away from our president’s former house, after almost two decades living in France.
When I signed up for this project, I did not realize the trip would offer me such an opportunity to practice my German. Yet I certainly have done so, especially during our very busy day in Düsseldorf, where we registered American voters and answered bewildered Germans, who wondered what the heck this tent covered in American paraphernalia was doing on their Burgplatz.
We set up our tent around 12 p.m. with help from Monica, a local member. The verdict was clear: Düsseldorf would be this tent’s last voyage. Under the orders of our master fixer-of-things, Jacqueline (Jack), we propped up our canvas awning as best we could with massive amounts of scotch tape and opened our laptops, ready for service!
Almost as soon as we sat down, our first American of the day came by to register, reminding us once more why we do this. He had not heard of VoteFromAbroad.org or Democrats Abroad, so we took him through the steps and gave him brochures to distribute to his American colleagues.
The flow of visitors stayed steady for hours. A tap on the shoulder called my attention to the time: “So how about some lunch?” said Will. It was 3 p.m. and I had completely forgotten to eat! As we wandered the cobbled streets of Düsseldorf, every store window, restaurant table and bar counter – except in Italian restaurants – jumped out at us, completely decked out in German flags. Jack, my fellow teen on the bus, is Italian-American, so it would have been quite interesting to watch her wave her little Italian flag in this sea of black, red and yellows…but we were already on our way to Denmark by the time of the game.
When we strode back to the stand, another van was parked next to ours; a police van, to be exact. Thankfully, Quaide and Karsten (from the bus) and Bill (from the NRW chapter) all speak German so it was no problem to show the police the permit and carry on with registrations on the Burgplatz.
We also exploited their language talents to get on German TV! A camera crew from Sat.1 17:30 spent the afternoon with us, interviewing bilingual Americans who had just registered, as well as members from Democrats Abroad.
Though the TV crew had planned to stay through the whole event, they had to leave before the end: we closed shop almost two hours late, registering more voters and chatting with fellow Americans Alix and Gianni. They were both so enthusiastic about the Road Trip that they are now thinking of joining us on the bus!